Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bargain Bin, Part I

This post was going to be about a female vocalist whose CD I picked up several years ago, a CD I didn’t rate highly, and which I was going to share with you so you could tell me why it was good. That would make me feel better about owning it for eighteen years without playing it a second time.

But I have claimed before that I can find something to like about darn near any music, and now, after much more exposure to hip hop than I had in 1991, I can truly say that there is at least one redeeming track. Before this evening, if someone told me at gunpoint to destroy one CD from my collection, this would have been the one. Now, if I were confronted with the same demand, I would dump . . . this CD, but with greater misgivings. Before, my main concern would have been the loss of an intact jewel case. Now, it would be that I had lost a party CD that could be fun to put on when everyone is beyond drunk.

I own the CD because my favorite CD store in Bloomington, Indiana, Tracks, received a load of ex-DJ CDs (remember my cutout/DJ 45s from Uncle Tom?), and they were selling some CD singles for 50 cents, and full-length albums for a dollar. I simply bought them all and took them home.

I actually liked a couple of the CDs, and one will feature here in a couple of months in an extremely positive light. But the eponymous album by Tamarah didn’t suit me. It wasn’t simply a hip hop problem, because there was other such material on the CDs I snagged. It wasn’t her voice, which is a clear soprano. I need you to help me articulate what isn’t quite right about this disc.

The cover doesn’t scream “buy me,” for one thing. Dark-brown script on tan background, with Tamarah, in a brown suede jacket with fringe on the sleeves, leaning on a brown gramophone with brown speaker horn. The liner notes . . . don’t exist. Her cover photo is on a one-sided slip of paper. (Rather, the other side is blank.)

The leadoff song is titled “Male Tender Roni,” and it is clearly an answer to Bobby Brown’s 1989 hit “Roni.” The third song is called “Satisfaction,” but it is not a Jagger-Richards composition. It, and all eight songs on this 33-minute opus, were written by Amos Larkins II.

Knowing the songwriter keeps this post from becoming a dead end right here. Mr. Larkins is known to Wikipedia by numerous professional names, including Willie Wong. He is a Miami-based pioneer of Miami bass, a subgenre of hip hop of which I actually was aware. The effects produced on a Roland TR-808 drum machine are the basis of this way of approaching music. Lo and behold, the label that released Tamarah’s album was RTR Records, with her 1990 release being #831.

While Mr. Larkins produced and engineered the album, its executive producer was Arny Leckie. A search for his name shows that he is “one of the top professionals real estate professionals in Miami-Dade County.” A bit of diversity in the business world is a good thing.

Someone is selling the LP of this release for $57 (US) because of its rarity. An eBay copy is going for $49. Someone else has the CD for $8. I could make at least eight times back on my original investment, if I were at all willing to part with a CD.

Since I don’t have a good enough grasp of obscure hip hop to decide if this music is any good, I’m depending on some feedback. You don’t have to be an expert to give an opinion. Let me know what you think.

Note that any crackles you hear are on the CD, not just on the compressed file.

For Saturday, we’ll look at another week of 1950s charts. See you then!

Tamarah, Male Tender Roni

Tamarah, This Love Will Never Die

Tamarah, Satisfaction

Tamarah, Back to Your Heart


Maia said...

You're finishing your novel AND keeping up with your blogs? Impressive!

Blackbird said...


Just a quick word to let you know that you are featured in our Radio.Jazz.Club blogroll


Also, we sure would appreciate to be featured in your blogroll.

All the best.